Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan

Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan ready for the oven!
Eggplant Parmesan with Spaghetti is just so good!  In days past I enjoyed ordering this entree when we dined at an Italian restaurant.  Then, I decided to stop eating the batter dipped fried Eggplant slices.  It's not that they were not totally delicious, I didn't want to eat fried foods.  Now, I enjoy preparing this entree, but I bake it.  Actually, double bake the Eggplant.  Whenever I bake a batch, extra portions are packaged/ labelled/ dated for our freezer. It's a great take- out dinner from my kitchen!

I've been baking this for a while, but now I've also changed my original recipe.  When preparing it, place a combination of Ricotta Cheese + Mozzarella Cheese on top of the Eggplant round after placing the Eggplant in the baking dish.  Then, top with a second round of Eggplant.  That extra yummy taste of  creamy Ricotta Cheese sandwiched between Eggplant slices!

Bake a batch!  It's so good!      
  
Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients:
2 Eggplants
Olive Oil for baking & sauteing
Basil
1 Cup Ricotta Cheese-  can be low fat or fat free
8 ounces Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Tomato Sauce- (16- 20 ounces)
(1) 6 ounce can Tomato Paste
Garlic Powder
Oregano
1 Green Pepper (chopped) and/ or 1 Zucchini Squash (chopped)

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. 
  2. Line a large cookie pan with foil, spray with PAM.
  3. Wash & dry all vegetables.
  4. Cut each Eggplant into 1" rounds.  ***Cut an even number of rounded slices. 
  5. Place each Eggplant round on cookie sheet. 
  6. Drizzle a small amount of Olive Oil for baking & sauteing on top of each round.
  7. Then, lightly sprinkle with Basil. 
  8. Bake Eggplant for 20 Minutes in 450°F. 
 After Eggplant has been removed from oven, lower oven temperature to 350°F.

***While Eggplant is baking:
  1.  Spray a large baking dish with PAM.
  2.  Combine & mix Tomato Sauce & Tomato Paste in a bowl.
  3.  Place a small amount of sauce mixture in baking dish, covering bottom of dish.
  4.  In another bowl, combine 1 Cup Ricotta Cheese and about 3 ounces of Mozzarella Cheese.

    After Eggplant comes out of the oven:
  5.  Place half of baked Eggplant rounds in baking dish.
  6.  Place Cheese mixture on top.
  7.  Place an Eggplant round on top of cheese.
  8.  Top with Sauce mixture.
  9.  Sprinkle on Mozzarella Cheese.
  10.  Add chopped Green Pepper and/ or chopped Zucchini to baking dish around Eggplant.
  11.  Cover the vegetables with all the remaining sauce mixture.
  12.  Bake for 30- 35 Minutes until Eggplant is soft.
  13.  Serve with Spaghetti & a Veggie Salad. 
This is a delicious dinner using fresh vegetables!  No longer do I miss ordering Eggplant Parmesan at an Italian restaurant.  :)

Enjoy!
Yummy!
  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

~Early Autumn~

What a great month- October!  Warm days, cool nights!  Oh wait, for the past few days it's been warm days & warm nights.  Well, sometimes things change a bit.  It is October & the local Butternut Squash are now available to purchase.

That brought our recent visit to Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow.  From leaving our yard to arriving at the road side stand, it was autumn.

The fronds on our Porcupine Grasses sway in the breeze.

    
Orange Dahlias, multi colored Zinnias and Grasses in our side garden.


And then, the colorful Mums at Meadowbrook Farm!


Definitely in season- gourds & Pumpkins!


Before we know it, the leaves will be turning.  Autumn is colorful!

Enjoy!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Saving Zinnia Seeds

Sometimes the Zinnias Attract Butterflies!
It's autumn!  It's time to save those Zinnia seeds from the plants you've been enjoying all summer.  You know you'll want to enjoy these beautiful colorful flowers again next summer.  So, save the seeds from this year's crop and plant them in your flower garden next spring!  In other works, it's time to plan ahead.

Before we get a frost this autumn I harvest the colorful flowers (no stems).  That frost will end my Zinnia crop!  Place the flowers in a cut down tissue box.  Then, place the box in front of  a window to dry them out.  After the flowers have dried, pull off the outer petals.  No longer are the petals colorful, but dried out.  Each petal is attached to a "tear shaped" seed.

"Tear Shaped" Zinnia Seeds
Those seeds are a gold mine of new plants for next year!  The red, the orange, the pink and the yellow flowers!  Save the seeds in an envelope for next year.  I always seal it, so none fall out.

Next spring, take out your envelope of seeds!  You will be so happy that you saved those seeds!  Find their spot in your garden & plant them in the warm soil.  Cover with a light coating of soil.  Water.  Before you know it sprouts will pop up & your new Zinnias will be on their way!

This is a tradition with me!  After perhaps 5 years the flowers start becoming a little smaller.  Then, I know it is time to purchase the seed packets to plant.  Until then, I'll be saving my colorful Zinnia seeds!

Enjoy!
Happy planting!
         

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Baked Haddock Casserole

Baked Haddock Casserole
Who would guess that under the crushed "hint of salt" Ritz crackers is a light covering of shredded cheese & Parsley flakes?  Under that is an individual sized portion of Haddock or Cod.  There's also the light sprinkling of Parsley, Paprika & Basil on the fish. 
Baked Haddock Casserole!  This is such a delicious entree! 

My Fiestaware individual sized casserole dishes are perfect for baking this yummy seafood.  It can be prepared any time during the year using fresh or defrosted Haddock.

We've enjoyed this at dinner so many times during the past year.  Last summer when we were at the Cape (Cape Cod in MA) we stopped in for dinner at a favorite restaurant in Orleans, MA- Rock Harbor Grill.  At dinner that evening we had a yummy baked fish entree, only it contained sausage in the topping.  Considering that I am watching my cholesterol, I decided to make a similar dish at home minus the sausage.  I add Paprika for the extra kick here.  To be honest, I do not see a difference in taste.

The fish is light & moist in this casserole.  The cheese & herbs give it a great taste.  It has become one of our favorite dinners on a cold New England night.

Bake this entree some evening!  It is so good!    

Baked Haddock Casserole
     2 servings  

Oven Temperature:  350°F          Time:  45 Minutes

Ingredients:
2 pieces (1/2 lb. each) Captain's Cut Haddock (- thick pieces)
1/8 teaspoon Parsley Flakes
1/8 teaspoon Paprika
1/8 teaspoon Basil
3- 4 ounces shredded Mozzarella or Mozzarella/ Cheddar Cheese combo
15 Hint of Salt Ritz Crackers, crushed   OR   2/3 Cup Bread Crumbs

3 Tablespoons Butter/ Margarine, melted
1/3 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

Method:
  1. Butter individual baking dishes.
  2. Rinse Haddock under cool running water.
  3. Place in baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle on Parsley Flakes.
  5. Then, sprinkle on Paprika & Basil.
  6. Cover with shredded Cheese.
  7. In a small bowl combine crushed Ritz Crackers  OR  Bread Crumbs & Garlic Powder.
  8. Add melted Butter/ Margarine & Worcestershire Sauce.  Combine well.
  9. Spread half of Mixture Topping on top of each baking dish.
  10. Bake at 350° F for 45 Minutes.
I find the crushed Ritz crackers work well here as do the Bread Crumbs, so I use either.  

This entree is just delicious!  There's no need to enjoy it only at a restaurant!  Serve it at home with a Salad & a Baked Potato!

Enjoy!
Yummy!

      

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Banana Cornmeal Pancakes

Banana Cornmeal Pancakes
(File Photo)

O.K., I admit it!  I wrote this post for me.  That's right.  Banana Cornmeal Pancakes are so easy to prepare- especially if you use a box of "Jiffy" Corn Muffin Mix.  That is one of the few "mixes" that I use when baking/ cooking.  It's probably totally comfort food for me.  Growing up my mom always used this mix for Cornmeal Muffins.  Now, I use this mix for pancakes that are banana flavored.

In the past the recipe for the Cornmeal Pancakes was printed on the box.  However, times have changed.  It's no longer visible- at all.  So, I always google to locate it.  I always seem to forget the amount of Milk needed.  For this reason I am writing this post!  For me & also for all of you who just may try it!

My Substitutions:
  • Soy Milk for the Milk  
  • 2 Egg Whites for 1 Whole Egg 
  • Olive Oil for sauteing & baking for melted shortening.

Banana Cornmeal Pancakes

Ingredients:
1 whole ripened Banana, mashed
2 Egg Whites, beaten
1/2 Soy Milk
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil for baking & sauteing
1 pk. Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix

Method:
  1. Combine mashed Banana & beaten Egg Whites.
  2. Add Soy Milk + Olive Oil.
  3. Combine with 1 pkg. Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix.  Stir well.
  4. Use about 1/2 cup batter for each pancake, more if desired.
  5. Place batter on hot griddle, turning over when brown.
This morning we enjoyed this pancakes.  When I prep them again, I will not need to google the amount of Milk! Woohoo!

The extra pancakes???  Oh, I always freeze them.  Place in a sandwich bag & then in a Ziploc Freezer Bag.  Label/ date & freeze.  They are so tasty on a busy morning- after heating in the microwave!

Enjoy
Yummy!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Grilled Chicken Flatbread with Roasted Veggies

Grilled Chicken Flatbread
with Roasted Green Pepper & Zucchini
Sometimes, do you have a few slices of Grilled Chicken remaining after dinner?  Do you have a Green Pepper & a small Zucchini just waiting in the fridge?  If the answer is Yes, Flatbread Pizza might be in your future!  This summer whenever we have leftover Grilled Chicken I know we'll be having this for dinner in the next 2 days!  

In April I shared how yummy BBQ Pork Tenderloin Flatbreads with Roasted Asparagus are.  Roasted Asparagus & fresh Spinach were placed on top along with chunks of BBQed Pork Tenderloin.  What a quick, easy & yummy dinner!

The packages of Flatbread that I use have baking directions on the package.  I make 3 White Flatbreads.

***Roasting Veggies:  Rinse veggies under cold running water, pat dry & cut into slices or chunks.  After coating with baking & sauteing Olive Oil, Garlic Powder, Basil & Oregano, they are roasted in a 450°F oven for 15 minutes. 

Then it's time to start making the Flatbreads!

Ready for the oven!

Grilled Chicken Flatbreads
with Roasted Veggies

Ingredients: 
Flatbreads
***Roasted Green Pepper strips & Roasted Zucchini slices.
1/4 Cup Ricotta Cheese (can be Fat Free) for each Flatbread
Grilled Chicken cut into chunks
1 teaspoon Water
4 teaspoons BBQ Sauce
Shredded Cheese- desired amount to be sprinkled on top

Method:
  1. Place (3) Flatbreads in a large cookie pan & bake in a 375°F Oven for 2 Minutes. Remove from oven.
  2. Spread about 1/4 Cup Ricotta Cheese on each.  (I use Fat Free.)
  3. Place Roasted Green Pepper strips & Roasted Zucchini slices on each Flatbread. 
  4. Add Grilled Chicken, that's cut in chunks.
  5. In a small cup combine 1 teaspoon cold water & 4 teaspoons BBQ Sauce.  Mix well.
  6. Drizzle BBQ sauce mixture over the 3 Flatbreads.
  7. Sprinkle desired amount of Shredded Cheese on top.
  8. Bake for 5 Minutes at 375°F.
  9. Remove from cookie pan & cut each Flatbread into 3- 4 pieces.
Any extra slices are refrigerated for the next day's lunch!

These are so good & not full of dough!  Just topped with chunks of Grilled Chicken & Roasted Veggies!  With all of the local fresh produce at our roadside stands, fresh veggies are now in season!  

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Peach Freezer Jam

Peach Freezer Jam
The local peach crop is in this year!  That was just great news for me & my annual preparation of Peach Freezer Jam!  There are 9 containers of this yummy jam sitting on our dining room table as I am typing this.  One batch yields 9 one cup containers + a small custard cup filled with the remainder (covered with foil).

On Friday the local peaches were purchased.  The needed amount for preparing the jam was placed in paper lunch bags to ripen.  They sat (closed) on the counter for 2 days.  Yesterday, the ripened peaches went into the fridge.  Today is Peach Freezer Jam Day for me!

The process is always the same.  I use Certo liquid pectin.  The directions are found in each box of Certo.  I always read over my own Helpful Hints, too!  I make only one batch.  However, if you will be preparing 2 batches, make each batch separately.




To start, rinse the fruit under cold running water.  Use clean utensils. 

After the jam is prepared & placed in the 1 cup freezer containers & covered/ labelled, it sits undisturbed for 24 hours.  Tomorrow afternoon at 3 PM I'll be placing the Peach Freezer Jam in our large freezer!  That little custard cup?  Oh, that will be placed in our fridge to enjoy for the next couple of weeks.  :)

Freezer Jams are just the best!

We will enjoy them again this year!
Yummy!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Colors in July

Salmon Daylilies
with Marigolds
For the past 2+ weeks our Salmon Daylilies have blossomed!  Suddenly, each morning there were 36+ blossoms to enjoy.  Every vibrant color of summer flowers are always a welcomed sight!  Some are perennials & a few others are annuals.  The Irises already blossomed, but the graceful green foliage add another shade of green to our lawn.   

Another View


A closer look-

Front Perennial Garden
with Marigolds

The saved Zinnia seeds were planted this spring.  Now, they are beginning to blossom.

Zinnias & Marigolds

Each week the view is a bit different, but always colorful & filled with flowers! 

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

~Blueberry Freezer Jam~

Blueberry Freezer Jam
July & Blueberries go hand in hand!  It's the month when I purchase the locally grown berries from Calabrese Farms in Southwick, MA & prep them for our freezer.  3 quarts are always saved to make Blueberry Freezer Jam the next day.  It's a tradition with me.  In my mom's kitchen we made the cooked jams, but years later I learned about the easy to prepare freezer jams.  That's my "go to" method!

Certo (liquid pectin), sugar & lemon juice are the other ingredients I use.  The complete directions are found in each box of Certo.  My 1 cup Ziploc freezer containers are located & my kitchen becomes a jam kitchen.  

A certain amount of blueberries are crushed & added to sugar.  They are stirred & the process begins.  It's always handy to have all the ingredients, utensils & containers/ lids ready to use.  Time just flies by after you set the timer. 

On Monday evening 3 batches of Blueberry Freezer Jam were sitting on our dining room table for the 24 hour time period.     

***Always prepare only 1 batch at a time. 

24 hours after the lids are placed on the top (& labelled/ dated) the jams are frozen.

My additional hints for freezer jams.

Do you prepare Freezer Jams?   So delicious!

We'll enjoy it all year!
Yummy!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tomato & Grilled Zucchini Salad

Tomato & Grilled Zucchini Salad

When preparing dinner I usually take out my iPad, place it on my kitchen counter & cook- using recipes on my blog or others I've saved.  There are countless yummy foods that I've posted that we like.  The ingredients are usually on hand, too.          

Now, it's the time of year to BBQ!  Zucchini is a veggie that we like sauteed, but during the warmer months it finds a place on our grill whenever we're grilling dinner.  Oregano, Basil & Garlic Powder added to the Baking & Sauteing Olive Oil give that veggie great flavoring!  Usually 3 or 4 Zucchini are prepared.  They are so good! 

One of the Grilled Zucchini are not eaten at dinner.  It's saved for Tomato & Grilled Zucchini Salad the next day!  This cold salad is just yummy with a little Balsamic Vinaigrette drizzled on top!

Tomato & Grilled Zucchini Salad

Ingredients:
1- 2 Grilled Zucchini, cold (Directions for grilling) 
1 Large Tomato- cut into chunks
Feta Cheese
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Directions: 
  1. Cut Grilled Zucchini into slices.
  2. Cut Tomato into chunks.
  3. Place into serving dishes.
  4. Sprinkle on Feta Cheese.
  5. Drizzle Balsamic Vinaigrette on top.
It's a delicious cold salad!

Enjoy!
Yummy!
        

Monday, July 3, 2017

"Statue of Liberty"

"Statue of Liberty"
by
Norman Rockwell
(Courtesy of Norman Rockwell Museum)




Last year I learned of a beautiful oil painting by Norman Rockwell when I attended a lecture given by Tom Daly from the Norman Rockwell Museum (in Stockbridge, MA.)  "The Statue of Liberty" is a different view of our beloved Lady Liberty. 

On July 6, 1946 this was the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.  The men of different backgrounds are all working together to repair her torch.     

The oil painting was once owned by the film director Steven Spielberg.  In 1994 he donated it to the official White House Collection.  One day last year while watching the national news on t.v., I saw this beautiful work on display in President Barack Obama's Oval Office.

What a beautiful painting!

Have a Safe &
Happy Fourth of July!!!  

Enjoy!



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

FREE FUN FRIDAYS- 2017

FREE FUN FRIDAYS
Image courtesy of
Highland Street Foundation

Summer is here!  It's the time of year when vacations & staycations will be/ are happening!  It's time for FREE FUN FRIDAYS!!!  Friday is the day of the week when families, neighbors & friends can visit specific very cool venues in my home state of Massachusetts- without paying a General Admission fee!  This takes place through the generosity of the Highland Street Foundation.

This summer the program began last Friday, June 23rd & will continue until Friday August 25.  Every week on Friday there are 8 or 9 specific museums/ cultural events open to anyone living in, visiting, or traveling through Massachusetts.  The places to visit are located throughout the state!  If this sounds interesting to you, check out the list!

List of dates & cool places to visit with Free General Admission!

This Friday, June 30, the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA is on the list.  There are 5 individual museums on their grounds.  Yes, this is the location of the newly opened The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss!  

The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
in Boston, MA is another wonderful place to visit this summer!  View & appreciate countless beautiful pieces of art. 


Another great destination that's located in Boston, MA is the Franklin Park Zoo.  There is so much to explore while walking outdoors!  

Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA is another favorite.  Step back into the early 19th century & learn how daily tasks were completed.  There are water powered mills & a working farm in this rural village.

Old Sturbridge Village

Younger children & their families will also enjoy The Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA.  It's located in an old apple orchard.


These are only a few of the great venues to visit this summer with Free General Admission!  FREE FUN FRIDAYS are a great opportunity to learn something new while having FuN! 

Thank you Highland Street Foundation!!!
We will enjoy!

        

Saturday, June 24, 2017

~Strawberry Freezer Jam~

Strawberry Freezer Jam
Part II of my Strawberry Season is making Strawberry Freezer Jam

Back in the day I would stand over my stove, stirring the pot of crushed fruit & sugar- feeling quite warm on a summer day.  Then, one day I looked at the recipe for Strawberry Freezer Jam that was included in the Certo box's directions.  Certo is the liquid pectin that I always stirred (still do) into the fruit/ sugar mixture while making the cooked (now Freezer) jam. 

The 24 hour let it set, then freeze method looked really good, so I made a batch.  From that day on I always have made Freezer Jam! 

Hints to remember while making Freezer Jams:
  • Read the directions first & follow exactly!  
  • If you are making more than one batch, make only one batch at a time.
  • Use clean bowls & utensils.
  • Click here for more hints. 



We were missing the taste of this homemade jam.  There were no more containers of any flavor in our large freezer.  Somehow, the commercial jams, preserves, jellies just do not taste as good.

Woohoo!  It's strawberry season & my 3 batches are doing their thing on our dining room table!  Tomorrow they will be placed in our freezer!

We will Enjoy!
Yummy!
    

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fresh Local Strawberries

Local Fresh Strawberries
Today was the day!!!  Every year about the middle of June the local strawberries are ripe & ready for us to enjoy.  When visiting roadside stands or Farmer's Markets, quarts of these sweet yummy red berries are available to purchase.   It's been a tradition with me to purchase strawberries to prep for our large freezer & also to make Freezer Jam.  Oh, years ago the tradition was to go to the strawberry patch & pick the berries I needed.  Traditions change!  :)

This morning quarts of strawberries from Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow, MA found their way to my kitchen.  After cutting off the tops, the strawberries were double rinsed in cold water & drained.  Then, 2 and 1/2 cups of this fruit were placed in Ziploc Freezer Bags.  Some of the larger strawberries were sliced first.  I add about 1 Tablespoon of sugar to each bag before closing.  It works well to move the sugar crystals around in the bag, so it dissolves.  Label & date each bag. 

In the winter months a defrosted bag of this yummy fruit is such a treat to top a Belgian Waffle, Yummy Oatmeal Pancakes or ice cream.

Ready for the Freezer!
Strawberries are always a 2 day project with me.  Tomorrow, I'll be making Strawberry Freezer Jam.

Do you enjoy making jams when the local fruit is available in your area?

Enjoy!
Yummy!
   
  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Some Colors of May

Bright Pink Peonies!
Here are some of the beautiful colors of May!  We have been enjoying our flowering bushes this spring.  Now, the perennials are also bursting into color.

Lavender Chives!

These Chives always add a beautiful shade of lavender to our garden.

Bleeding Hearts
Years ago 4 small Bleeding Hearts were planted in our back garden.  Now, they've multiplied & found their spot around a large boulder.

Champagne Rhododendron
The white blossoms on the Champagne Rhododendron are dainty.

We are Enjoying Spring!
 

Monday, May 29, 2017

~Memorial Day~


Today
we remember & honor
the Men & Women 
who made the ultimate sacrifice 
for us!

Thank You!!! 




Sunday, May 28, 2017

*Blueberry Torte*

Blueberry Torte
(File Photo)
A Blueberry Torte is baking in my oven!  This dessert rates up there as one of our faves.  It's a treat that can be baked any time of the year.  When you have fresh blueberries or if you've defrosted blueberries.  For me- during the year it's when I've defrosted a bag that's in our large freezer.

It's an easy dessert!  Prepare the batter.  If the batter is too dry, I add 1- 2 Tablespoons more (Soy) Milk & continue mixing.  Place batter in a spring form pan.  Then add the fresh/ defrosted & drained blueberries & press lightly into batter.  Sprinkle on the cinnamon/ sugar mixture & bake.       

Before baking
(File Photo)




Before you know it this delicious dessert will be ready to serve!

Yum!
(File Photo)
  
 Click here for the Blueberry Torte Recipe.  It's so good with or without a small scoop of vanilla ice cream!  We do have vanilla ice cream!  :)

Enjoy!
Yummy!